Like many things in the technology world, components are getting smaller and smaller and so are computers.

A perfect example of this is shown by the recent releases of Original Equipment Machine desktop systems from companies like Dell or HP. Ten years ago, OEM desktops were massive beasts that held large motherboards and power supplies that were much slower than today’s standards. Now, we are seeing desktops that are smaller than computer monitors and can be easily placed on top of a desk rather than the floor.

In the newest edition of our Tech Support Forum 2015 Build Guide , I included a new section that contains specialty builds. Two out of the three builds are based on the mATX form factor, a smaller version of the standard ATX sizing.

mATX computers are great for home media PCs, personal servers, or for those who wish to have the PC on the desk, rather than the floor. While there is a large selection of available mATX motherboards on the market, the real challenge is air flow and keeping the system cooled.

The decrease in case size means that it becomes harder and harder to optimize air flow to keep the CPU and rest of the machine as cool as possible. There are some who say that water cooling is the best choice of action in this situation. However, an All-in-One water cooling pump not only takes up a large amount of room, but can at times be louder than traditional air cooled PCs and the benefits of water cooling are miniscule.

A stock Intel or AMD cooler may do a decent job at keeping your CPU cooled, but there’s always a better option than a stock cooler. Noctua, a company that is known for their cooling solutions in the computer market, has reinvented a cooler from 2005, one that carries almost 800 awards. Over the years, their CPU coolers have had a massive presence in terms of the cooler’s size and their presence in the technology field. With their presence in the technology field continuing to increase in size, they’ve taken an opposite approach to their CPU coolers and moved towards miniaturization.

This is a two part review, you are reading part 1 which will cover the NH-U9S. View part 2, which covers the NH-D9L, here . These reviews will be covering what you will be purchasing and what to expect.

Welcome to my review of the Noctua NH-U9S CPU cooler. Throughout this review, I will be covering the unboxing, design, and my final thoughts. I would like to thank Noctua for providing me with the NH-U9S.

The Unboxing

In the past, something I’ve come to enjoy is the attention to detail that goes into a Noctua box. The packaging material is superb with the CPU cooler well contained in a cardboard mold that minimizes damage during shipping.

Those who have been building computers for a while will understand that some coolers are better than others. Those who have a good eye may notice that the poorly made units come from poorly run manufacturers in China that seek to produce the cheapest product to maximize their revenue. This isn’t the case here; Noctua’s coolers are produced in Taiwan and are manufactured to ISO Standards: ISO9001 & ISO1 4001.

The last letter in NH-U9S is a Noctua key that means the unit supports better compatibility even in its small form factor. By utilizing the Noctua SecuFirm 2, this cooler can be mounted on LGA 2011, LGA 2011-3, LGA 115x, AM2+, AM3+, FM1, and FM2 systems. Therefore, all of the necessary mounting hardware that is required is included.

Noctua’s accessory box contains well labeled baggies that hold an Intel and AMD mounting set and general accessories. Be warned that some of the bags may pre-open and hardware may be swapped, therefore, follow the manuals on installing the unit or check the face of the accessories box to see what goes where.

General accessories include a long metal screw driver, the excellent NT-H1 thermal paste, additional fan mounting braces, a low-noise fan adapter, and finally a metal Noctua case badge. The only missing accessory I would have liked to see is a Y fan splitter since this unit can support two fans at once.

Finally, the main jewel of the unboxing unveils the NH-U9S itself with a pre-attached Noctua NF-A9 fan.

The Design

The NH-U9S reminds me of the much larger NH-U14S, with a large center heat sink and dual supported fans on either side of the unit.

Its center multi-layer fin structure is manufactured out of thin aluminum and contains ~45 fins which houses five copper, chrome plated, heat pipes that form a U shape inside the block. Speaking of the heat pipes, Noctua chose to place three of them closer to the preinstalled fan and the remaining two farther away. While this doesn’t appear to have an impact on cooling, I would have rather seen four heat pipes, evenly placed between each other.

I mentioned in the introduction that this cooler is quite small and while pictures do not do it justice, I can say that this cooler easily fits in the palm of my hand. The weight of the unit with one installed NF-A9 fan is 618 grams, so your computer’s motherboard should not feel a strain from a heavy CPU cooler if the PC happens to be moved.

Moreover, I also mentioned how mATX builders will be seeking the functionality of this cooler. This doesn’t mean it has to be used in that application. Fortunately, Intel and AMD have standards for their mounting hardware, meaning it’s the same CPU socket size on an ATX, mATX, or min-ITX computer. You’re not limited just to a mATX case and a quick Google search reveals this amazing little cooler on all sorts of motherboards intended for all sorts of builds.

Furthermore, its smaller size allows it to be compatible with nearly all type of memory sizes, as well PCIe cards, even in a min-ITX case!

One of my favorite design aspects of this Noctua cooler is what Noctua does on nearly all of their CPU coolers and that is the dual fan on either side of the heat sink. Previously, I took a look at Noctua’s new NF-A9 fans and this is exactly what is designed to work with the new NH-U9S. It’s small size and excellent air flow gives you the best of both worlds, a large heat sink with fans from a standard size desktop.

The fans themselves are reasonably quiet on this cooler. In fact, according to external data, their sound level is lower than every other fan in this 92mm size. There’s no need to worry about additional sound or a rattle if you do plan on using this with a desktop PC.

My Final Thoughts

See part 2 for the final thoughts.

Buy it Now:

© 2015 Justin Vendette